2015 All-Albertan Song Contest

The 2015 ATB Financial All-Albertan Song Contest was our closest one ever.

The overall quality of entries was at an all-time high and fan voting was extremely tight. That left our panel of judges with a very difficult decision. Which of the top six finalists put together the best song about Alberta?

In the end, Motherland by Colleen Brown and Scenic Route to Alaska was picked as the champ. The talented artists from Edmonton will share the top prize of $10,000 from ATB. Motherland’s haunting lyrics and beautiful arrangement pushed it over the top. It’s the first time an artist from somewhere other than Calgary has claimed the All-Albertan Song Contest.

Scenic Route to Alaska and Colleen Brown

Brown, also a finalist in the first All-Albertan Song Contest in 2010, was shocked when she heard the news while cat-sitting for a friend in Toronto.

"I was listening to CKUA on my phone and I did not think we would win. I was really floored," says Brown, who just wrapped up a Canada-wide tour. "The six finalists' songs were all amazing."

Brown, originally from Lloydminster, came up with the idea for the song while on tour in Europe this past spring. She had just learned that Rachel Notley's NDP had just swept to power in the provincial election.

"I was in a cafe in Linz, Austria, when I heard the news," says Brown. "I was shocked and surprised and so excited when I found that out. My heart was bursting. I was surrounded by a bunch of Austrian bachelors who had no idea what was going on in Alberta and probably didn't care. I started crying and was just really moved. I felt like something had shifted, maybe not just in Alberta. I went back to my room and immediately wrote the song."

The song was recorded with Scenic Route to Alaska, a popular Edmonton-based trio. Brown met the group at a show in the U.K. and soon after they decided to collaborate. 

"We were inspired by each other musically and felt like it was a really good match," says Brown. "We recorded that song and were really inspired to do more songs together."

Motherland will be featured on a yet-to-be named upcoming album. The song itself touches on a familiar theme: feeling homesick for Alberta while on the road.

"I had a really strong yearning to be back in Alberta and celebrating with people," adds Brown. "I can't say I thought about the lyrics a lot, they just poured out of me in that moment. It came from a feeling of pride for my home province and of oneness."

Brock Tyler’s You Can Dance In Alberta! earned second place honours and $3,000 from ATB. Tyler earned the most number of combined votes, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and CD Baby downloads. It’s the second year in a row Tyler has placed in the All-Albertan Song Contest. In 2014, Tyler finished third with Louise Caroline Alberta.

And in third place, Drew Hubka earned $2,000 from ATB with Dusty Roads and Oversize Loads, completing an Edmonton sweep of the top three spots.

ATB is also adding a new twist to the contest. Since the songs were so closely matched and since all six artists did such a great job promoting their songs on social media (resulting in a 35 per cent jump in voting totals), we’ve decided to give the remaining finalists (Carrie Day, Joe Nolan and Heather Blush & the Uppercuts) $500 each as honourable mentions.

Thanks to everyone who entered, listened and voted in this year’s contest. And stay tuned for a special concert announcement involving our winners.

2015 All-Albertan Song Contest Rules

2015 All-Albertan Song Contest Rules

1. Entrants must be Albertan and living in Alberta at the time of entry.

2. Entrants will record and submit an original, new, non-released song about Alberta. The song must be written and performed by the entrant.

3. Entrants will submit the song in a commonly used electronic audio format (i.e.: MP3), or on a CD.

4. Entrants will submit a legible lyrics sheet.

5. Entrants will submit a photo of themselves.

6. Entrants will submit contact information in a separate document, including song title, home phone number and e-mail address; that information won’t be disclosed to parties outside the contest.

7. Audio files of each song entered will up uploaded to the wearealberta Sound Cloud account for the duration of the contest.

8. Entrants can not be employees, or family members of employees, or board representatives, or family members of board representatives, of ATB Financial, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, CKUA Radio, or Alberta Music.

9. The winning entrant:

     a. Receives $10,000 from ATB Financial
     b. Is free to negotiate for and decide on any further uses of the song, and retains its copyright
     c. Agrees to be photographed and interviewed for a story on the ATB Financial community website wearealberta.ca
     d. Agrees to perform a live concert for ATB Financial for an additional talent fee at to-be-determined date and location (within Alberta)

10. The second-place entrant receives $3,000 in cash from ATB Financial.

11. The third-place entrant receives $2,000 in cash from ATB Financial.

12. *Entries will be accepted through the entry form found on this page or through conventional mail to:

Barry Strader
ATB Place
21st FL 10020 - 100 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5J 0N3

13. Entrants’ materials will not be returned. Due to logistical considerations, the contest administrator will not be able to guarantee acknowledgment that an entry has been received.

14. Deadline for entries is 12:00 pm, September 4, 2015.

15. From the pool of entries, a short-list of three to six entries will be chosen from a panel of judges from Alberta Music, CKUA and ATB Financial.

16. The short-listed entries – both song and lyrics – will be posted on ATB Financial’s community website wearealberta.ca. The short-listed entries will also be made available for download on the website CD Baby. Proceeds from each download will be donated to the charity of ATB’s choice. Entrants agree to this, without qualification.

17. Albertans will be invited to vote on ATB Financial’s Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram for their favourite entry from the short-list. Each “like” on Facebook and Instagram and each “favourite” on Twitter count as one vote. Each song download on CD Baby counts as 10 votes.

18. The winning entries – first place, second place and third place – will be chosen from a combination of public voting and a final round of judging.

19. The first-place winner will be revealed live on CKUA radio on October 2, 2015.

20. ATB Financial and CKUA assume that all entrants – by their submission of songs for this contest – agree to these rules.

*Entry submission details to be updated – check back for further details.

Published
February 25th, 2016



73 comments

Steve Truch I love the idea of this contest. I have a question regarding performance. I wrote a song I would like to submit but I believe it would be performed better with someone else's voice. Are there restrictions around this? Do you have to both write and sing the song? Thanks very much

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Steve, Barry from ATB here. You could have someone else's voice on the song. I would just recommend entering as a team. We also welcome entries from bands. If you win, you'd have to share the prize money! :)

2 years ago

danielle Hi! Am I able to have a choir style vocal with a few other singers singing along with me for just one of the chorus's? - it would just be my voice singing the rest of the song. Would this conflict with the rule that states the song has to be performed by the writer?

2 years ago

Mark 'non-released song' does that mean if a song gets a play on the radio does that disqualify if even though it hasn't be punlished or released in anyway, just played on the radio?

2 years ago

Phil Schroeder I'm looking forward to submitting my entry to this contest. I was thinking of doing a song simply for Edmonton as a teaser anyways, so when I was informed of this contest (Tuesday) I was pretty psyched. Now I have it mostly written and recorded, and I'd like to publish it to my SoundCloud, before I submit the final recording of it to you folks. Are there any problems with entering a song I have already published?

2 years ago

Phil Is there a limit as to how many songs one can submit?

2 years ago

Phil Okay, first entry has been submitted. Is there a limit as to how many songs one can submit? Are we notified when the SoundCloud entry is posted?

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Danielle. Yes, that would be just fine. Looking forward to hearing your song!

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Mark. Barry from ATB here. Thanks for your question. If a song is currently being played on the radio, we would consider that song released and not eligible for the contest.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Phil. Barry from ATB here. We're looking forward to hearing your song! We post all the entries to our wearealberta SoundCloud account, so I would encourage you to hold off on posting to your own account until after the contest.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Phil. Barry from ATB here. There is no limit to how many songs you can enter, so keep them coming! We post on our @wearealberta Twitter account every time a song is posted to SoundCloud.

2 years ago

Mark Thanks for the reply. The song would only be played once on a volunteer radio show. It's not in rotation and hasn't been released in any other way.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Mark. Thanks for being so honest! We'll match your honesty with ours. We have to be consistent with the rules of our contest and fair to all those interested in entering. So, unfortunately, if a song has been played on the radio, we have to consider the song to be released. That might sound like a bank that's full of rules, but the rule in this case is in the service of great art. If you'd like to chat more, please give me a call at 780-495-1343. Cheers, Barry

2 years ago

Dylan Hi there - If a band entering is Albertan, and writes the entire song, but uses a (non albertan) singer (for hire) for backup vocals only, is the song still eligible? Thanks, Dylan

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Dylan. As long as the lead vocals are performed by an Albertan member of your band, your scenario is just fine. Barry from ATB.

2 years ago

Phil So cool. I love this idea. I'm aiming for a second entry now.

2 years ago

Phil no problem... thanks for the response.

2 years ago

Jeff Simms Hi, I'm helping a friend of mine enter the 2015 Alberta song contest, I guess I'm a bit more computer savvy then he is lol, when uploaded his pic, and his song, a error sign came up , but it looked like the song and pic where still there, and when I submitted it nothing said it went through or not, so I'm just wondering if the entry for Jess Lee went through. thx for your time Jeff

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Jeff, We did receive Jess' entry. Thanks very much! Barry from ATB

2 years ago

Phil I can't tell you how happy I am NOT to be a judge in this contest. There is enough impressive work being done and submitted to make this contest difficult to sift through.

2 years ago

Dwain Sands Hi Barry. I have just perused the above comments and regrettably must withdraw my entry "The SX Bar", as the song was once played on a local radio program. I had considered the song eligible as it was not ever commercially released, not available to stations for airplay, or to the public for sale. But having read your comments to Mark, I see that I was mistaken. Certainly not a criticism of the competition (I think it's great!), but perhaps a more precise definition of "release" should be incorporated in the rules for clarity. It has always been a problem in the industry determining exactly what constitutes a "release". Does ANY exposure of the song to the public (i.e., a live performance or a non-earning performance on air) mean that it has been released, or is it a matter of being distributed to stations for airplay or made available for commercial sale that determines a release? Just something to consider for the purposes of the rules. Can you please remove my entry and I will go to work on a new number! Thank you Barry and good luck to all entrants!

2 years ago

bstrader Judging is tough, that's for sure. A good problem to have, though! :)

2 years ago

bstrader Fair comment, Dwain. We appreciate your honesty and we'll be sure to make the rules clearer next time.

2 years ago

John Just to make sure I don't miss it... is the deadline Friday night (midnight) or noon??? 12:00 PM is a little ambiguous.

2 years ago

lcuthbertson Friday at noon! :)

2 years ago

Doug John, 12pm means noon.

2 years ago

Greg I try to submit the entry but it does not upload, what can i try?

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Greg, If your song didn't upload properly, you can email your audio file, lyrics and photo to bstrader@atb.com.

2 years ago

Joe Hi, I submitted an entry for the Alberta song contest, however, I could not figure out how to get my song attached or into an mp3 so I had to submit the wrong song for my form to go through on time, is there any way I can email the correct song?!! Thank you, is it ok if i email a non mp3 version? Ive already submitted but its the wrong song Joe

2 years ago

Phil Ha... second entry in. I noticed some pretty high standards in some cases of pro quality mastering (eg. Sycamous). I'm no pro at that... completely solo... all parts... is that quality level part of the judging?

2 years ago

bstrader We got the right entry now. Thanks, Joe!

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Phil, Audio production quality is a consideration (we hope for a "radio-ready" song) but it's not the only factor. Our judges also consider the quality of the writing, singing and other tangible and intangible factors. Good luck!

2 years ago

Bill MacKenzie I just entered the contest last nite and now just realized I didn't read the rules fully. For we can't perform the song publicly as the other member who helped write the song now lives in Sooke BC. Song is Alberta Rising. Dang that sucks. Oh well good luck to all who entered.

2 years ago

Taylor Hello ATB, I was hoping to enter my song in for the contest, but the deadline passed, it is only 8:21 by my clock here, has there been some mistake? Where may I send my entry?

2 years ago

bstrader Okay Bill. Thanks very much for letting us know.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Taylor. The entry deadline was today at 12:00 pm (noon).

2 years ago

Phil Hi Barry, Just listened to the original track on my second entry, and the distortion present in the vocal track on the listing in the SoundCloud listing isn't present in the track on my recording. I know when I recorded it I never went into the red zone so I'm a little confused. I wonder if in the setting of the track onto SoundCloud it was either compressed or otherwise altered? I know YouTube has been known to alter sound files as they are uploaded, is it the same with SoundCloud?

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Phil. We will check it out. Thanks for letting us know.

2 years ago

cw Just wondering how a song that was posted in the past 24hours made the finals. I thought this contest had a deadline.

2 years ago

bstrader CW, Barry from ATB here. That was our bad. The song was entered on August 31, before the September 4 deadline. We were late posting it to SoundCloud, which is our fault. Apologies for any confusion.

2 years ago

cw I thought this contest had a deadline. How did a song submitted 6 days past the deadline make it to the top 6? Somewhat disheartening to those that made the effort to follow the contest deadlines.

2 years ago

bstrader As I just mentioned, we were late adding that entry to our Soundcloud account but I can assure you all finalists' songs were submitted before the September 4 deadline. We are very strict with that.

2 years ago

Bill Hi Barry, Thank you for the opportunity to enter my song. I feel compelled to mention a few things about this contest. I know I am not the only one. It has not gone unnoticed that all the winners in the past and the six finalists this year (except Drew) all have a CD or CDs, tour, and are young. I did not know that our material had to be Radio ready until after I had sent in my song entry or I would not have sent it in. You mention it in your comments when someone is concerned about how polished the winners material is. This "Radio ready" fact is huge. You need to make this a stipulation in your qualification of the contest, in bold and at the top. Barry, can you let us know how we can win this contest if any one of us might have the best written song of the contest but do not tour, are not young, do not have CDs and our presentation is not "Radio ready" - which means pro quality? Most of the contestants who may very well have a winning song cannot afford to have it professionally recorded. Do you know how much money that costs? Why did you not let it be known that to qualify you need pro material? That would leave your contestants to about 12 or less and much less padding of non qualifiers. Think about it, the entries are way down from last year and I predict will be down further next year because the contest is unfair. Who are the Judges and what are their qualifications to judge a song writing contest or a song presentation contest. I know one is Grant Stoval of CKUA, but, you have never told us who the rest are. Are they all from CKUA? Barry, these are not "sour grapes" comments but facts and observations which I am sure you are aware of. People (entries) need to have answers in order for you to present a contest with a level playing field. Please do not give us lip service full of bull. Another observation. The girl who won last year had a great song. She never mentions Alberta or going to any specific place in Alberta. She mentions leaving Montana. Montana has six borders. Is she going to Idaho to its beautiful Mountains and rivers etc.? Don't know, she doesn't say. One of the six qualifiers this year has a nice song called Motherland. Is the song about Canada? She doesn't say. My point is if you are in a contest called: We Are Alberta, should the song at least mention Alberta or a city or town. If so, the above mentioned songs should not qualify. Suggestion. 1. Have two contests. One for the pro entries with winner receiving $5,000.00 and another for non pro entries with the winner winning $5,000.00. 2. The money will only go towards recording. For the Pro winner, recording a new song maybe. The non Radio-ready winner could record their winning song professionally and possibly sell it on CD Baby or other outlets. I truly thank ATB for having a contest such as this. It is forward thinking for sure. I know you put in a huge effort to make this a successful endeavor. However, if you do not want to have entries feel they are always out of contention then the contest needs to be tweeked a bit. Thank you for reading this.

2 years ago

Shawn Ohler Hi, Bill. I'm Shawn Ohler, a former ATBer, an old Edmonton Journal arts editor and judge on the contest since the beginning. I'm not speaking for Barry or ATB: just me. Grant and I have been joined by all kinds of judges over the life of the contest: record label folks, Alberta Music execs, award-winning songwriters, Kirby before she got sick (bless her). Some notes about the entrants, and what "radio-ready" means to us judges. The finalists haven't all been young (Tom Phillips, John Wort Hannam, Steve Loree, others are ... not young {sorry, guys!}). Other than Colleen Brown and the Scenic Route fellas, I couldn't have guessed at the finalists' ages until I saw their pics here. I heard Joe's song and thought: there's a guy with some whiskey and experience in his voice and decades behind the mic. And ... then I saw his pic! "Radio-ready" doesn't mean professionally recorded, or multi-instrumentation, or Pet Sounds-style harmonies, at least to us judges, in this contest. "Is this song good enough for radio?" is how we look at it. Danny Vacon's first-year winner was guitar and voice, recorded on a four-track in his basement for zero dollars. And I would listen to it every day on the radio if a station would indulge me. (About this year's finalists, and your comment about $$$: I can't imagine Joe Nolan or Carrie Day spent a bunch on their entries.) Jordan's song last year and Colleen's/SRtA's song this year sing Alberta to me, maybe more subtly than some other entries who namecheck highway numbers and rivers and various and sundry municipalities. But those are Alberta songs just the same, with strong Albertan perspectives. To us judges, anyhoo. Thoughts from a judge. Hope they shed some light. Shawn

2 years ago

BIll Hey Shawn, Thank you kindly for your reply and shedding some light on the Judging and some of the past entrants. I did not have any idea who the entrants were in the past and was only commenting on winners posted both in the past and the finalists now and how very polished their entries were/are. That is excellent. I also enjoy the music of the people that you mentioned. All of the contestants are certainly worthy and I enjoyed many of the songs presented (I listened to them all on the ATB Sound cloud). I had not heard of the contest until a friend heard my song and said I should enter it in the ATB contest. She had heard about it on CKUA. I listen to CKUA periodically but, honestly had never heard of the contest. I have never been big on contests about works of art but entered anyway. It was a lot of fun; bought back great memories!!! I still believe that Radio ready should be mentioned as a stipulation because it is. Entrants now know; nothing wrong with that. Entrants will have their own perception of what that means. Knowing the names of the Judges and their qualifications, like you presented to me, is a normal and good thing. I still think the contest should be for pros and non pros because over the years the pros are winning. I certainly agree with you on name checking and subtly. However, pinpointing lets one know for sure especially in a contest of this sort. Once again Shawm, thank you for reading my comments and replying. Bill

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Bill, Thank you very much for entering the contest and letting us know your thoughts. We welcome feedback from everyone. Shawn answered most of your questions before I had the chance but I thought I would chime in as well. Shawn is one of three judges on our panel this year. Our third judge is Olivia Wik, an award-winning, professional songwriter. All three of our judges are more than qualified for the job. You suggest you need to be a "pro" to be considered for the finals, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the past, we have had finalists ranging from 12 and 14 years of age to a 63-year-old who had never written or recorded a song before in his life. Our contest is intended to inspire Albertans to write a song about their home. It is open to all Albertans. Every entrant is given an equal opportunity to make the finals and to win. Our hope is to put the spotlight on the great talent that exists in our province. Some of that talent is already established and some of it is yet to be discovered. The number of entries we received this year is virtually the same as the number we received in our three previous contests. As for the sound quality of the recordings, yes, we hope the quality is good. But as Shawn said, that doesn't mean you have to go into a recording studio and spend thousands of dollars. Last year's winner, Sykamore, recorded the vocals for her song in her mom's closet. Even if the recording we receive has poor sound quality, if it's a good song we will consider it for the finals. In some cases, including this year, we have reached out to artists for a higher quality recording of their song. Many of those artists went on to the finals. The reason we need good sound quality is that our partner, CKUA, supports the contest by playing the finalists' songs on the radio for the duration of the contest and sometimes beyond. I hope I was able to answer your questions. If you have any more, please let me know. Cheers, Barry

2 years ago

Bill Barber Hi Barry, Thank you kindly for your reply. I hope that it is not thought that I am dissing the ATB contest in any manner. It is certainly not my intention. I think the contest is a very positive thing for both our great Province of Alberta and it's music/musician and song writing community which is rich in talent. Kudos to ATB for presenting it. It would be nice to see double the entries next year and onward. I was only commenting on my observations. As far as the Judges, I thought it reasonable to know who is Judging ones work. I think it would be a feather in ones cap to be a Judge in a contest such as this. You and Shawn both mention that entered works do not have to be "pro" Radio-ready quality but that it would be nice because winning songs will be played on CKUA. I'm saying that that is very good just let it be known to entrants. Your ears might be thankful. No one loses in a contest where they present their songs. Most writers are proud of their gems and should be. They don't lose a thing but, gain in having a new song, a new creation they may never have had otherwise. Thank you again Barry for your reply and thank you also Shawn.

2 years ago

Paul It was my understanding that the top vote-getters were Carrie Day and Joe Nolan. At least that was what was visible on your page at the voting deadline. Carrie had the most votes, with Joe right behind her. Despite that, neither finished in the Top 3. So I wonder, what was the point of asking people to vote if in the end, their votes didn't count, or am I missing something here?

1 year ago

bstrader Hi, Paul, Barry from ATB here. Thank you very much for your comment. Fan voting is an important aspect of our contest, but it is one of several factors the judges consider when they make their final decisions on the top three. We do state in the contest rules that winners are selected based on a combination of voting results and a final round of judging. We try to make it clear during the voting process that our judges get the final say. During that final round of judging, Colleen Brown and Scenic Route to Alaska's song was the only song all judges could agree on as the first place finisher. Brock Tyler actually finished first in the combined online voting (adding Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and CD Baby song downloads) and was rewarded for that with a second place finish. Drew Hubka's song was agreed upon by the judges as the strongest of the remaining songs and therefore was selected third. Because all six of our finalists' songs were so strong and because of the tremendous effort made during the voting process, we decided for the first time ever to award each of our remaining finalists with a prize of $500. Every year, we evaluate how things went with our contest and we will definitely take your feedback into consideration. Thanks again, Barry

1 year ago

Paul Barry, I appreciate your taking the time to reply to my question. I have to push further, however, and ask: why even bother with voting? Regardless of whether, say, Carrie or Joe received 10 times the number of votes of anyone else, clearly the judges had decided who would win. You state, "During that final round of judging, Colleen Brown and Scenic Route to Alaska's song was the only song all judges could agree on as the first place finisher." If so, how would any number of votes impact their collective decision? Makes no sense. If I heard the songs, I would make a decision, and if I subsequently saw the number of votes, that would have no impact on my selection as a judge. My suggestion for future contests is to scrap the voting, and create a jury of impartial judges, perhaps including some who have no industry ties, and therefore no possible biases towards one or more artists chosen as finalists. The other thing that strikes me as odd is that the winning song makes no mention of Alberta whatsoever. Had I heard it independently of this contest, I might have thought it was about the ocean. The other five songs all paint lovely landscapes of our province. So please forgive me I still believe something was not right here.

1 year ago

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